Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Standing for Something

Standing up is hard. Even when those sitting in the crowd are respectful, being the one standing is uncomfortable. But when those seated speak unkindly and belittle the choice to stand, it makes staying on your feet that much more difficult.

Alyssa competed in her Sectionals gymnastics meet last Saturday. It is there that gymnasts qualify for the State meet. She did well, placing third in her age group. It’s been so exciting to see her thrive in her talents this past meet season. She has consistently been the highest scoring gymnast on her team, which consists of girls ranging in age from 7 to 15. The average of her all-around scores is 5.5 points higher than last year’s performances. Five points in gymnastics scores is an enormous difference! She’s shown a great work ethic and motivation to improve her skills. While it’s been a thrill to watch her succeed in competition, I’m even more grateful for the self-confidence she’s gained.

We knew the State meet was a two-day event, with sessions on Saturday and Sunday. But I had heard that if a particular gymnast wanted to avoid Sunday competition for religious reasons, all she had to do was request to compete on Saturday.

Once the Sectionals meet was completed and we could see that Alyssa had qualified for State, I started questioning how we might request a Saturday competition. I was not prepared for the resistance with which my inquiries would be met. One of Alyssa’s coaches was exceptionally firm and almost threatening in her advice that I not make any special requests of anyone. Evidently it is not just a matter of asking, but that such a request could be misinterpreted as self-righteousness and could furthermore cause a black mark-type effect on the rest of the gymnastics team. In other words, I’d better not ask for Saturday competition unless I wanted to risk putting the entire team in jeopardy of being misjudged.

I, in no way, desired to cause such a stir, so I determined to remain quiet. And in the meantime, we hoped and prayed that Alyssa’s competition would take place on Saturday. And because State meet fees had to be paid that very day, we were committed to investing $60 prior to knowing on which day Alyssa’s competition would happen to fall.

We got news yesterday that the level 4 sessions of the State meet would indeed be held on Sunday.

My heart sank.

I shared the news with Alyssa. Her face fell. I told her we would support her in whatever decision she felt was right. She responded by saying, “But it’s not a good idea, is it Mom?”

I can see that she is struggling to make the decision that she already knows is right. At her age and stage in gymnastics, it seems that keeping the Sabbath day holy is the clear choice.

We are standing for what we believe to be right. But our standing is bringing about snide remarks and intolerance from others. Because Alyssa’s absence will greatly impact the team’s score (a team score is determined by using the top three scores), the coaches are upset with our decision.

This choice has also caused us serious reflection on whether making concessions for Sunday competition will ever be appropriate. If, in a few years, she is much older and at a higher level of competition, would an exception be made? Is it ever o.k. to sit back down once you’ve chosen to stand? Tough, tough questions.

We feel so sad. We’ve cried. But for now, we will remain on our feet. And that Saturday which we had hoped would be occupied by competition will now be set aside for Alyssa’s baptism. We’re picking out a special dress and will celebrate this big event with family and friends. And I have a feeling that seeing her dressed all in white will bring far greater joy than any we might have felt from watching any leotard-clad success.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Same Song, Second Verse

Twenty-one years ago, on November 7th (my 13th birthday), I competed in a gymnastics meet. I won first place all-around in my age division. According to the newspaper clipping in my scrapbook, my winning title led my team to a third place finish. The winning team that day was a team called Northwest Aerials.

Yesterday, on November 8th (just two days after Alyssa's birthday), she competed in a gymnastics meet. She did very well and earned her highest all-around score of the season. Her performance earned her first place in the eight and under age division. Her title helped lead her team to a second place finish. And the first place team at yesterday's meet? Northwest Aerials.

What a thrill it was for us to see her on top of that podium! We got video clip of the awards ceremony and then posed for these shots after the meet was done.

The meet was really long and slow-moving, but it was definitely time well spent. Alyssa has an amazing ability to keep her focus which is why she's doing so well.

We stopped for dinner at Red Robin and Lys and I enjoyed matching birthday sundaes. On the way into the restaurant, Alyssa asked me what my old gymnastics warm-ups used to look like.

"A lot like yours, " I told her.

My gym had the very same colors. It's just a little crazy how similarly history can repeat itself. But I must admit, I'm having a lot of fun living it twice!

We decided quite some time ago that eight would be our minimum ear-piercing age. Alyssa could not wait and had been talking about it non-stop since her birthday. What better way to celebrate her great accomplishment than adding a little bling to her adorable face?

She hardly flinched, insisting that it didn't hurt at all. And I think she looks so cute!
We're so proud of this little girl!

Friday, November 7, 2008

To the love of my life

Laat li mas china'us ixk, nak cuilom sa' chixjunil in'yuam. Mas nacatin'ra.

Happy Birthday Tara!

yours always and forever,


Thursday, November 6, 2008

She's Eight!

We started celebrating yesterday afternoon with a party with all of Alyssa's friends. Our birthday girl had requested a Hannah Montana-themed get-together.

"It was just totally awesome!" according to Alyssa. And I had so much fun planning it.

We used the cute little tin purse, pictured here, for a game. It was filled with all sorts of Hannah Montana goodies; nail polish, lip glosses, brush, bracelet, necklace, etc. The girls took turns removing items, sometimes up to four items, and two teams competed to figure out what Hannah lost from her purse.

Alyssa's place setting. I made each girl a personalized autograph book. Every rock star signs autographs, right? And each guest got a sparkly pen to do the signing.

The cupcakes. Strawberry cake with a vanilla pudding center. Yummy!

Some of our rock star snacks.

Signing autographs. Aren't they so cute?

Playing "Pin the Microphone on Hannah Montana." Alyssa is thrilled to have a this new poster for her room.

The guests. Back row: Jasmine, Rachel, Linsey, Emily, Abigail and Brinkley. Front row: McKenzie, Jenna, Alyssa, Kaelynn, Lydia and Kaylie. On the landing: Amber.

This morning, Alyssa woke extra early and I found her sitting on her bed, writing in her new sparkly journal that she received from a friend at last night's party. She said she wanted to write all about her party so she'd remember it.

We had muffins for breakfast so we started the day by singing and blowing out a candle.

Alyssa requested McDonald's for lunch. The kids thought it was so great to be able to leave school for a Happy Meal.

Alyssa took cookies to share with her classmates and then more cupcakes to share with her gymnastics teammates at tonight's practice.

She requested "noodles with white sauce" for dinner and then we had one more cake and candle-blowing for good measure.

Eight years sure do go by quickly. Seems like yesterday this tiny, beautiful little girl joined our lives. Now, all of the sudden, we've reached a milestone birthday. She's looking forward to being baptized soon and also can't wait to have her ears pierced.

Happy Birthday to one super special girl! We sure love you!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Post-Halloween Musings

Our Halloween arrangement works perfectly. I prefer to stay home and pass out candy and Jon prefers to hit the streets with the kids. We both get what we want. The doorbell rings frequently, but I enjoy the quiet house in between visitors. Each time I close the door, I’m left alone with my thoughts…

  • How old is too old? Some older kids are polite and still pleasantly childlike so I don’t mind that they are still enjoying the thrill of free candy. Others are obnoxious in their costumes and demeanor so I hoard my chocolate from them and begrudgingly find a small fruity Tootsie Roll instead.
  • How young is too young? If I know you, it’s lots of fun to see your little tike dressed up in their duds. Or if the infant is tagging along with a sibling, then that’s also acceptable. But when I open the door to a mom holding her plastic pumpkin toward me with her baby seated in his stroller a few feet behind her (because it would be too much work to lift the stroller onto the porch) I find it a bit annoying.
  • Jon and I have often had the doorbell/knock debate. In general, I am a knocker. To me, the doorbell seems too loud and obtrusive. Jon disagrees. He thinks the doorbell is there to be used. I’ve decided that on Halloween, and only on Halloween, Jon is right. And I like the challenge of trying to make it to the door before they go so impatient as to ring it twice.
  • Pillowcases should not be used. Nothing says mooch more than a bulging pillowcase. I admit that my kids come home mid-way through the night to do an empty-the-bucket candy drop, so I know that they’re getting enough to fill a pillowcase, but I just don’t like the look of it. And this year I got two “no-baggers” who simply took my candy into their hands and then stuffed their pockets. That’s even worse than the pillowcase.
  • I feel a bit uncomfortable with a flash going off in my face right as I’m opening my door. Again, if I know you, then I’m alright with you using my house to capture your child’s trick-or-treat experience. But being photographed by a perfect stranger is somewhat unsettling to me.
  • Our living room has twenty-foot ceilings. Our next-door neighbors have the same model of home and have a regular full-size trampoline (with net and all) right in their front room. Every Halloween, I love to hear the trick-or-treaters reach their porch and excitedly exclaim, “Mom! They have a trampoline in their house!” Makes me smile every time.
  • It’s always a joy to give candy to gracious kids who offer me thoughtful wishes for a “Happy Halloween.” I loved it when the little cheerleader squealed as she ran to her mom to show her her newly acquired Tootsie Pop. Or the adorable little knight who asked me, “ What you gonna be?”
  • Then there was the preteen who, as soon as I opened the door, said, “Ooh, you’re pretty!” I was feeling all flattered until I realized she was just using it as a get-seconds scheme. I put the candy in her pumpkin first (probably because she had just complimented me so nicely) and then filled her comrades’ buckets. As the group turned to leave she held out her bucket in a you-forgot-me kind of gesture. Tricky.

Yesterday, we did our usual sort and count of the Halloween candy. Tootsie rolls topped the count with 54 pieces. Lollipops came in second at 48 and Snickers came in third at 31. We each picked our top three which is always interesting to me. Almond Joy is my #1, followed by Twix and then Kit Kat. Jon went with Milky Way, Twix and Starburst. Starburst wouldn’t even make my top ten! The kids love the lollipops best which may be one of my last choices. But that’s what’s great about the variety that trick-or-treating provides.

And by the look of the garbage can, we’ve been enjoying it a lot.

What are your top three?